Tag Archives: Microsoft

Christmas Gift Guide for the Men in Your Life | 2015 Edition

It’s Wendy again.  I am here to write and publish this year’s inaugural Christmas Gift Guide on jordoncooper.com.  As is custom around here, this is for all of the men on your holiday check list.  So whether you are shopping for a husband, boyfriend (hopefully you aren’t shopping for both), father, kids, or friends, I’ve got gift ideas for all of the men in your life.


Does anyone use CD’s anymore?  We don’t.  If we do get them, they are immediately ripped and then imported into iTunes to be played on our iPods.  From there they are played via Bluetooth.  So here is a selection of portable Bluetooth devices that will sound amazing anywhere that you bring them, even if the guy you are shopping for loves to play Bon Jovi.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s hands-free and always on. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Echo connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, to provide information, answer questions, play music, read the news, check sports scores or the weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick Alexa or Amazon as your wake word.

Think of it at Siri for your home… or for you Iron Man fans out there, it’s getting close to what Jarvis is.

Amazon ECHOAmazon ECHO

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

The SoundLink Bluetooth speakers are among the most popular — if not, the most popular — portable wireless speakers in terms of sales.   I have listened to it a couple of times while out and about this year and they sounds amazing while filling a room beautifully.  Not only that but if you bring them on the road with your or even just into the backyard, they have a 14 hour battery life.

  • Purchase at AmazonHouse of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System


    House of Marley Chant Portable Bluetooth Audio System

    Jordon has wanted one of these for a while.  This spring he went out and bought one.  It is battery powered (charges via a USB cable) and is a constant companion.  It is small enough to toss in a bag on a road trip which makes travelling a little more pleasant.  If you are buying for a road warrior or just someone who likes to chill outside while listening to music, this is a great gift idea.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech UE Mini Boom

    Logitech UE Mini Boom

    This is what The Wirecutter says about the Mini Boom

    This is the second year in a row that we’ve picked the Mini Boom as our top pick, but it’s the first time I’ve personally heard it. As an audio reviewer with a quarter century of experience, people often ask me what portable speaker they should get. It’s a difficult question to answer because they come in so many styles and sizes, and widely range in price, but the Mini Boom makes it easy.

    There’s so much to like about it and so little to dislike. In fact, if all my stuff disappeared tomorrow, the Mini Boom and our home Bluetooth pick would be the first audio products I’d buy. It plays about as loud as a large flat-panel TV set, and because it’s only about the size of half an orange, it’s easy to take almost anywhere. It sounds good enough that you can hear almost every element of a music track, from the cymbals all the way down to the lowest notes on a guitar (although maybe not the lowest notes on a bass).

    I have always thought of Logitech in terms of mice and trackballs.  Then Jordon went out and got a set of Logitech surround sound speakers for our television and I was surprised at how good they sound.  They had a way better sound than our soundbar and in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.  This little speaker has won a lot of awards and a lot of acclaim.  Logitech may not have the name that Bose does but it is a third the price and the sound quality is worth it.

  • Purchase at Amazon

Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Stereo System with Built-in Speakers


Backed by over 100 years of manufacturing high-quality audio products, Electrohome is pleased to introduce the Archer Turntable Stereo System: a fully automatic turntable with built-in speakers housed in a 60s-style suitcase that blends vintage charm with twenty-first century convenience.

Enjoying the classic style of a retro 60s turntable doesn’t mean you have to miss out on 21st century convenience; play songs from your smartphones, tablets, or USB flash drive using the system’s AUX and USB input. For private listening, simply connect your headphones and drift away into the world of vinyl without disturbing a soul.

It’s also the gift that keeps giving you gift ideas. From speakers to vintage records, there will always something you can keep adding to this gift.

Now on to headphones for those times when you don’t want to listen to what they are listening to.

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

These amazing headphones are the #1 best selling over the ear headphones from Amazon and for good reason.  They are consistently rated as excellent.  The Sennheiser HD 202 II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance.   Jordon bought me a pair to replace my other Sennheisers that Marley chewed up.  What you notice about them is the sound but also how comfortable they are.  You can listen to them for hours.

  • Purchase at AmazonIn Ear Headphones

    Don’t let them keep using the Apple earphones that came with their phone.  Upgrade their in-ear headphones with Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic.

    Brainwavz Delta Red In Ear Earphones With Remote & Mic

    Never heard of them?  Here is what The Wirecutter has to say about them.

    If I wanted to buy a cheap pair of earbuds to replace the ones included with my mobile device, I’d get the Brainwavz Delta with Mic. After spending 32 hours researching literally hundreds of in-ear headphones under $40, then seriously considering 179 and testing 68 with our panel of audio experts (40 last time, 28 this round), we came to a decision: The Brainwavz Deltas are the best for the money. Our panel unanimously voted them the best sounding of the entire bunch, plus they fit comfortably in most ears and are a total steal.

  • Purchase at AmazonPanasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear Headphones

    My next suggestion is ones that we are big fans of around here and that is the Panasonic RPTCM125A Headphones Blue.  They were the winner last year on The Wirecutter and are runners up this year.  Here is why we love them.  The sound is excellent, the price is fantastic but they are so comfortable.  We have bought them for Mark and the advantage of getting these over more expensive headphones is that when the dog chews them, they get lost or stolen, it’s not the end of the world.  Great quality, comfortable, affordable price.

    Panasonic RP-TCM125-A In Ear Headphones

  • Purchase at AmazonComputers

    We spend all of these hours in front of our computers and for many people. they are still using the same keyboard and mouse that came out of the box with their desktop or laptop.  Upgrade their computer with a new keyboard, mouse, or trackball.  It’s a great gift and his hands will thank you for it.

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

    If the guy you are buying for spends a lot of time in front of computer as a writer, photo editor, or coder, get him a keyboard that is better that what came with her computer.  Perhaps one of the best ones out there is the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard.  It is split in the middle, has a nice touch and feel, and has a built in pad for your wrists.  Studies are inconclusive on whether or not they prevent carpal tunnel but they are a lot more comfortable to type on than a desktop or laptop computer keyboard.

  • Purchase from AmazonLogitech M570 Wireless Trackball

    Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball

    A trackball is something that so many people I know have loved as soon as they have gone to it yet it isn’t something that many of us are going to go out and get for ourselves.  One of these or a Microsoft Sculpt or Arc Touch mouse and the sculpt keyboard would be a great gift for any one who spends some time in front of a screen every day.

  • Purchase at AmazonLogitech HD Pro Webcam

    Logitech HD Pro Webcam

    Being seperated from family is tough.  So whether you are shopping for your husband, boyfriend, or father, treat them with a high definition webcam.  You can get one for them so you can benefit or get one and place it on your own computer so they can see you better.  Ideally you will both have one so you can have conversations in 1080p High Definition video.

    Breathtaking full HD 1080p calls on Skype, with the sharpest video-call picture available. 16:9 widescreen keeps you all in the picture. Easy HD 720p video calls on Yahoo! Messenger, Gmail Voice and Video Chat and most other favorite IM services.

    If he is still getting by on a 640×480 screen, upgrading to a Full HD webcam will make a world of difference.

  • Purchase at AmazonTablets

    So many of us have tablets now that we have even started to upgrade our older ones.  If the person you are shopping for has a tablet that is more than a few years old, it is time to upgrade it.  New processor, better battery life, and overall performance makes this upgrade a great gift.

    Amazon Fire 7” Tablet

    Amazon Fire 7" Tablet

    $49.99 for a tablet! Are you kidding me Amazon?  Despite the really low price, it has a Quad-core 1.3 GHz, 8 gb of storage (expandable of course), a VGA Front-facing camera + 2 MP rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.   As for battery life, it offers up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music

  • Purchase at Amazon (where else?)Google Nexus 9” Tablet

    Google Nexus 9 Tablet

    If the Kindle Fire is the best Android budget tablet out there, then here is the flagship, the Google Nexus 9.

  • 8.9” IPS LCD display with 4:3 aspect ratio constructed from Gorilla Glass 3
  • Dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound
  • 8MP rear camera – 1.6MP front camera
  • 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver @ 2.3GHz CPU
  • Micro-USB 2.0For the accept no compromises Android user out there, this is the tablet they want.
  • Purchase at AmazoniPad Mini 4

    Apple iPad Mini 4


  • Purchase from AppleKenneth Cole Reaction Leather Messenger Bag

    Kenneth Cole Reaction leather messenger bag


    Upgrade his shoulder bag or backpack with a leather 4 inch double gusset flapover portfolio/ 15.4 inch computer case with pull through handle.  Stylish enough to take to work everyday and rugged enough to take with him on the weekends.

  • Purchase from AmazonFossil Card Wallet

    Fossil Men's Bradley Slim Card Case

    If he already has a great looking bag or maybe you are looking for something less expensive, check out the Fossil card wallet.  Jordon went to one of these a couple of years ago and he has loved it.  Low profile, fits in any pocket and carries enough cards and I.D. to keep you going while forcing you to ditch the other stuff that clutters up a wallet and weighs you down.

  • Purchase at AmazonTimex Expedition Field Watch

    Timex Expedition Field Watch

    The Timex Expedition field watch were inspired by the field watches issued to soldiers during the first half of the 20th century and look great with a wide variety of get-ups. While there are more expensive name-brand versions out there, if you’re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch, this is perfect.  You can spend hundreds on a field watch but it’s hard to beat the quality you get from a Timex Expedition for the cost you are paying.

    Spend your hard earned money on other things with the money you save on this watch.

  • Purchase from AmazonOutdoors

    Nikon Travelite VI 8×25 Binoculars

    There is always a pair of binoculars in Jordon’s day bag.  For years they have been a pair of Nikon’s because you can’t beat the quality of the optics for the cost and portability. Nikon Travelite 8x25 Binoculars

    A rubber armored carbon fiber body offers lightweight and impact-resistant performance, and the contoured body with textured gripping surfaces provide slip-resistant handling, making the Travelite VI well-suited for sightseeing on vacation and glassing the ball field from the stands.  Reviewers in multiple publications have said that these are the perfect balance between power and weight with no compromises either way.

  • Purchase from Amazon  (another good option is the Pentax 8×21 binoculars which also offer good quality at a lower price)Gerber Ripstop I Knife

    Gerber Ripstop I Knife

    Jordon started to carry this in his pocket because he wanted something small and functional for work.  This fit the bill perfectly.   He has one for every day use and then he keeps packed and ready to go in his day bag.  He likes this knife because it is big enough to do what he needs it to do most days but small enough to fold up and fit comfortably in his front pocket.  It’s also small enough that when he pulls it out at work, no one goes, “HE’S GOT A KNIFE!”.  Instead they often go, “cool” and want to take a look at it.

    Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

    Get back to basics — the very cool basics — with Leatherman’s Skeletool CX.  It keeps weight and volume to a minimum while still having the tools he will need.

    Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-tool

    Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System

    Stanley Mountain Coffee System

    The thing that stops so many people from camping…the perception that they have to “suffer” out there and can’t enjoy the comforts of home. Instead, Stanley said, “Oh no, nobody goes without good coffee while camping…not on our watch!”

    The entire system might look a little bit like overkill, but when you keep in mind the fact that the components are all useful for other purposes this system does far more than just make coffee.

    First of all, they thought of everything with this kit. The bottom (outside) layer is the pot to heat your water, complete with latching pre-installed handle. Just give the small button a squeeze to lift it up or put it down. This layer is obviously a great pot for heating up your meals too, especially if you pre-pouched it and just need to reheat with a hot water bath. The next layer is the French press plunger, and yes, if you pour really, really carefully, you can strain other foods with it (like pasta) when you’re not making coffee. The next nested layer is the famous Stanley vacuum bottle, so basically you use your kit to make a whole pot of coffee and then pour it into the bottle to keep it hot. The lid that closes the bottle actually has a small twist off lid the store your coffee grounds, and the exterior lid twists apart to form two cups.

    Gourmet coffee.  In the woods.  He’ll love it.

  • Purchase at AmazonEagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

    Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

    Light and compact enough for backpacking, yet robust enough for backyard luxury, the popular ENO DoubleNest Hammock sets up in seconds and has plenty of room for 2.

  • Purchase at AmazonJA Henckels International 15 Piece Knife Set with Knife Block

    JA Henckels International 15 Piece Knife Set with Knife Block

    Set includes a 3 inch paring knife, a 5 inch santoku knife, a 7 inch santoku knife, an 8 inch chef’s knife, an 8 inch bread knife, six 4.5 inch steak knives, a 5 inch serrated utility knife, a sharpening steel, shears, and a hardwood block.  This is the perfect gift for someone who likes to cook and doesn’t have decent knives.  Even though they are the affordable line of knives from J.A. Henckels, they are still excellent knives and will be a significant upgrade over his current set. Taken care of, they will last a lifetime.

  • Purchase at AmazonKenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit

    Kenneth Cole Shaving Kit

    Don’t just get him a Dopp Kitt, inside it place some essential shaving products that he will love.

  • Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle TechnologyGillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle Technology
  • Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood: This will last for decades and he’ll think of you every time he uses it.Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood
  • Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil: He may not admit how good this feels on his skin but he will appreciate it.
  • Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
  • Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette Spray: For when he goes out and wants to smell nice but still let the world know he is still tough enough to conquer it. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette SprayMoleskine Classic Notebook

Moleskine Classic Notebook

Every man needs to keep a journal and this basic, yet classic Large Plain notebook is one that he will want to keep this thoughts and projects in. This reliable travel companion, perfect for sketches, thoughts and passing notes, has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners, acid free paper, a bookmark, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.

Sphero BB-8 Droid

Sphero BB-8 app enabled droid

This gift hits two big things in your guys life

  • It from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie which if he is like most guys, is dying to see.
  • It’s a programmable robot which he wanted since Tomy released the Omnibot.

This is THE toy of the holiday season and is one that the entire family will get a kick out of.  If the guy you are shopping for still enjoys a remote controlled car, a drone, or just having fun, make sure you check out this gift and pick up one early, they won’t be around as we get towards Christmas.

  • Authentic Movement: Guide your BB-8 with a smartphone or tablet
  • Listens & Responds: BB-8 recognizes and reacts to your voice
  • Holographic Messaging: Record and view virtual holographic videos with BB-8
  • Autonomous Behavior: BB-8 has a mind of its own – explore the Star Wars galaxy together
  • Adaptive Personality: Your BB-8’s unique attitude and actions evolve as you interact


Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 | Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14Corel Paint Shop Pro X8

If he is a creative type and a photographer, get him some software that will fuel that creativity.  While the Adobe Creative Cloud is excellent, you have to pay for it monthly.  As an alternative Adobe has Photoshop Element and Corel has Paint Shop Pro 18.  Both will help him (and you) create your best photographs ever whether you are using a Nikon D810 or a iPhone 4.

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone

If he is a podcaster or musician, check out the Blue Microphone Yet USB microphone.  It allows you to record just yourself, a conversation with two people or an entire room of people.  Great sound, solid design, and a lot of fun as he takes his first steps towards being an internet sensation.

Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone


Another option for the aspiring radio star is this Shure microphone for any iOS device with a Lightning connector.  Compact enough to fit in a pocket and be with you anywhere at anytime.

  • Apple MFi certified compatible with all iOS devices equipped with a Lightning connector
  • Matched cardioid and bi-directional 1 cm cartridges for best-in-class audio
  • Mid-side architecture for a phase-perfect, clear stereo image
  • 5 DSP preset modes (Speech, Singing, Flat, Acoustic Instrument, Loud)
  • Automatically adjusts EQ, compression and limiting for optimal results
  • Innovative hinge/rotation design supports multiple recording angles, including video applications
  • Free ShurePlus MOTIV recording app featuring 24-bit/48 khz .wav (uncompressed) recording,control over DSP mode selection, microphone gain, stereo width, raw mid-side adjustments, wind reduction, capsule selection, Left-Right Swap, 5-band EQ and compression/limiting
  • All-metal construction engineered to withstand the most demanding recording conditions



The Jordon Cooper Christmas Gift GuidesHoliday Gift Guides

MSN Messenger to end after 15 years

Here is the BBC Obit

MSN Messenger was a hard-working internet visionary which taught a generation to touch-type and lol, writes BBC technology reporter Dave Lee.

It touched the lives of millions of teenagers who, in an age before real social networking, were just getting accustomed to what it was like to live on the internet.

MSN Messenger heralded a new era: a time when chatting up a classmate no longer meant the terrifying prospect of actually having to say something to them.

It meant no longer would young teens have to endure the torture of ringing the landline number of their newest crush – knowing there was a high probability that dad would pick up.

But after all the “ASL?”s and “u there?”s, Messenger’s loyal subjects became less dependent. “I’ll brb”, people said… but they never did.

Other sites, smarter and better looking, would see Messenger cast aside. In an age of exciting digital discovery, Messenger became the web’s wooden toy.

After a long career, it spent its final year enjoying a comfortable retirement in China. Its less well-regarded relative, Windows Messenger, still battles on on work computers the world over.

“It’s like MSN,” office workers say, “…just not as fun.”

MSN Messenger is survived by Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, Google+ and Instagram.

Seattle tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up

A conversation every city needs to have

Does Seattle know how to grow?

You’d think so, with all those construction cranes back and so many mega-projects underway. We’re about to get expanded light rail, a new waterfront, a massive downtown tunnel, a super-sized 520 bridge, and a Mercer Mess that has been tidied up after 50 years of complaining. Growth would seem to be the least of our problems.

But there are some who think these endeavors are not enough. We could do more, do it bigger, do it better and, they believe, we had better get to it because we’re facing big economic challenges. Boeing, for example, has become a constant worry. The company is doing a slow retreat from Puget Sound, and keeping key parts of Boeing’s work here is getting increasingly expensive for taxpayers. Some $9 billion in new tax breaks have been offered to keep 777X work here. Even so, without a major transportation package and with major union concessions just voted down, Boeing is looking for a better deal elsewhere.

Another foundation of our economy is showing signs of change, and age. Microsoft has reached maturity and experienced enough marketplace failures (Vista, Zune, Surface) that a major management shift is underway. We’ve grown accustomed to Redmond being a perennial powerhouse and millionaire-generator in the Gates-Ballmer era, but will that roll continue?

Seattle sees itself as a special incubator of the next big commercial success — and the new Bezos family-funded “Center for Innovation” at the Museum of History and Industry that opened this fall is a shrine to this self-image. We’ve scored with Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco and Amazon, for example. But in the tech sector there’s some thought that we haven’t reached our silicon potential, that we’re over-due for a new major success a la Google or Facebook.

Sure, we’re a pretty good place for start-ups, but Seattle tech booster Chris DeVore recently wrotethat while Seattle is pretty good at launching companies, “It’s been a long time since a new Seattle-based company produced a huge windfall.” He means a company, like Microsoft or Amazon, that lifted employees and investors by generating lots of wealth. “If I had to put my finger on the one thing we could do to improve our weak ‘startup rate,’ it would be to produce more explosive wins in Seattle…” he wrote. That would benefit start-ups and companies all up and down the food chain and generate money to invest in new ventures. Apparently, the tech sector needs a new blockbuster.

Another voice encouraging Seattle and Washington to take it to the next level is Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith. In October, he addressed the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s annual Leadership Conference, an appropriate place for business leaders to inspire the team with a growth-oriented Gipper speech. I also had a chance to talk with him afterwards. In his speech, he said “[I]f there is a moment in time when we can come together and focus on raising our ambition, I think that moment is now.” With the state recovering economically, with greater global competition ahead (China, Brazil, South Carolina…), and with so much potential here, we need to get going, and set our sights higher.

To that end, his Gipper — or maybe "Skipper" — speech cited a nautical example. It was inspirational achievement of the University of Washington rowing crew who beat the odds to win a gold medal in 1936. These were local boys who had to raise their own money during the Depression to go to Germany, who had to race under rules that favored Hitler’s rowing team, and who took on the task of making America proud at the Nazi’s infamous Olympic Games. “It’s a reminder of what nine young men from humble background could achieve when they reached beyond themselves and worked as a team,” he said.

A Perfect Storm for Microsoft?

From Business Insider

Almost one year ago today, we laid out the nightmare scenario for Microsoft (MSFT) that could lead to its business collapsing. After laying it all out, we concluded, “Fortunately for Microsoft, none of this is going to happen.”

We were wrong.

A lot changed in the last year. Microsoft’s nightmare scenario is actually starting to take hold. We’re revisiting our slideshow from last year to see how things have played out.

Each number that follows has one piece of the nightmare scenario for Microsoft and an explanation of where Microsoft stands in comparison to that hypothetical situation.

While it’s going to take a while, Microsoft isn’t the business it used to be. (as I write this from my MacBook Pro)

Another horrible strategic move by Nokia

Since launching Windows Phone 7, it’s marketshare has dropped 38% which means that by the time that Nokia introduces Windows Phone 7 devices, the OS may be about as popular as the Symbian OS it dropped in support of Windows 7.

The question is for how much longer handset makers and carriers will consider it worth supporting Windows Phone 7. Microsoft’s mobile market share has been declining at a compound rate of about 5% per month for the past six months. At that pace, its overall share may be be hovering around just 4% by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, rival Google is on track to dominate smartphones. Android devices held 40% of the market as of the end of June, according to Comscore. Apple’s share came in at 26.6%, while RIM’s share, also in decline, fell to 23.4%.

i don’t know of a single user of Windows Phone 7 now that I think about it.  No one I know even talks about it.

Dave Winer as Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect

Dave Winer has a great post on what Windows 8 needs to look like.

Okay, now what is Windows 8? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It’s less than Windows 7. The UI is simpler. The media players are out. Its job is just to let your data have a place to live that you own, that you pay for, that you fully control. I would actually cut a direct deal with Amazon and create the ultimate cloud server that a user can manage themselves, that you pay for by the month. Need more services? Pay a little more. Need even more? Pay even more. :-) Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Now this would have to be promoted very crisply. With lots of influential individual developers non-disclosed and on-board long before it’s announced. But because the basic softrware already exists, on Rackspace and EC2, you can start the bootstrap right away. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You also produce a simple, beautiful client that runs on netbook hardware, and runs on every other platform you can get software on. Go ahead and develop iPhone and iPad apps. Let Apple reject them, and when they do, make it public issue. Hell, make it a public policy issue. (BTW, I would partner with Facebook on this. Let Joe Hewitt run the project. Don’t know who he is? Find out.) Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bottom-line: a really simple, user-administered, cloud OS is the next killer.

The World’s Worst PowerPoint Slide


As the New York Times puts it, we have seen the enemy and it is Powerpoint.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

Essential Windows 7 Downloads

New computer means that I get to go through the process of installing new applications as well as some old favorites.  In case you are wondering, here is my list of essential Windows software downloads.

Office and Productivity

  • Open Office (free) with some excellent extensions that are now available.
  • AbiWord (free)  When I write I like a word processor that gets and stays out of my way.
  • Gimpshop (free) Based on Gimp but it has a Photoshop style interface.  It’s not quite Photoshop but it’s not $600 either.
  • Paint.net (free) another wonderful and free photo organizer
  • Picasa (free) Google’s photo organizer.  The nice thing is that allows me to easily backup all of my photos.
  • Microsoft Photo Story (free)
  • Windows Movie Maker and some add ons (free)
  • Windows Live Writer for blogging (free)
  • FreeMind (free) I have started using mind mapping software a while ago and it has helped me organize some things in my mind and also for others.
  • Google Sketchup (free) It’s another software program that isn’t a necessity but I enjoy playing with when I need to create some plans for around the house and or at the cabin.


Web Design

  • KompoZer (free) In March 2007, KompoZer was featured on Download.com’s round up on the best free alternatives to Adobe CS3, where it was favorably compared to Adobe Dreamweaver.


  • CC Cleaner (free) I just started to use this but I like it better than EZ Cleaner.
  • EZ Cleaner (free)
  • PDF Creator (free) Since I use Open Office which does a good job of publishing to PDF, I don’t use this a lot but every once in a while I need a PDF from a different program and this does a great job.
  • Fox It Reader (free) So much faster than Adobe Acrobat that it is ridiculous and should make Adobe ashamed of themselves.
  • AVG Free (free) It does daily updates, is free, and stays out of the way a lot better than other anti virus programs out there.
  • Defraggler (free) I started to use this as I find it faster and more thorough then Windows Defrag.
  • Recuva (free) Wendy and Mark tend to delete things and then empty the Recycle Bin or things like that.  This counters their best efforts.
  • Audacity (free) Basic audio editing
  • Dropbox (free) I love Dropbox.  I have it installed at home, work, and on both laptops.  Instead of always looking for a thumb drive, I transfer up to 2 gigs at a time with Dropbox.  If you aren’t using it, you have no idea how useful this service really is.

Media Players

I do use a bunch of web apps like Gmail (and Google Apps) and Google Reader.

HD Webcam from Microsoft

Ever since the Apple iSight came out, I have been clamoring for a webcam that would rival the Apple iSight.  I assumed it would come from Logitech but it actually came from Microsoft.  It’s only several years late but it’s finally here and it has HD.  It’s about time.

While I am linking to Jordon Cooper Outfitters, make sure you check out the Inka Pen which is the ultimate “take with you pen” and the also take some time to see if the new Kodak Playsport HD camera should be accompanying you this summer.

Christmas Gift Guide for the Road Warrior | 2009 Edition

I don’t travel very much anymore but the routine of leaving home, boarding planes, bad coffee, bad sleep, and doing it all over again had me thinking about the best tools for the road warriors on your Christmas shopping list.  If this list doesn’t do anything for you, feel free to check out my other Christmas gift guides.

Burton Sleeper Hoodie :: No more crying babies, stiff neck, lost tickets, swampy arm pits or annoying fluorescent lights in your face. Inflate the integrated neck pillow in the hood, pull down the hood¿s light shield, crank up your new age mix or pop in your ear plugs, then pop some sleeping pills. Next stop nirvana. Travel as you know it will never be the same.

Vuzix iWear Glasses for iPod :: The AV920 from Vuzix features the best mobile experience yet: a wearable virtual 62″ big screen compatible with almost any audio / video device. Ditch your small screen and watch your movies with portable DVD players or personal media players in beautiful, crystal clear high-resolution 2D and 3D. The AV920 offers the ultimate big screen experience on the go.The AV920 delivers a virtual display equivalent to a 62-inch screen viewed from 9 feet which is pretty crazy when you think about it.

JanSport Antics Series Driver 8 Wheeled Backpack :: If you are like me, you have your laptop, PSP, iPod, a book, magazine, and a drink or two with you when you go on the plane.  While none of them weigh that much together, they do add up.  Your loved one could carry all of that with them but believe me, a wheeled backpack is a wonderful thing to have as you stand in line at the counter, stand in line at security, stand in line at Starbucks, and stand in line while waiting to board.  Travelling can be enough of a mental and physical workout without having to heave your luggage around or have to worry about your laptop.

Pelican Micro Case :: Are you going to trust the airline to keep your loved ones iPod, cell phone, or Blackberry safe?  I wouldn’t either.  Toss them in one of these Pelican Micro Cases and while the airline may destroy their bag, they will at least be able to phone and complain?

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones :: I still remember the first time I flew and turned on my fairly inexpensive noise cancelling headphones.  The engine noise disappeared, the voices around me became audible and I was far more refreshed as I stopped off the plane.  It also made it much easier to sleep.  While Bose sets the standard for noise cancelling headphones, you can pick up some Sony noise cancelling headphones for quite a bit less money.

Flat Automatic Umbrella :: As a road warrior, you know that one day they will get stuck out in the rain.  By one of those tropical rainstorms that rolled in out of nowhere.  They will thank you as they stay dry and warm.

Fisher Bullet Space Pen :: All I have to say is that it is a pen designed to last 100 years.  Toss it in one of the compartments of the rolling backpack.

If their computer’s webcam leaves something to be desired, how about getting them one of Microsoft Lifecam HD webcams. This webcam, delivers smooth, detailed 16:9 video in full 720p HD quality. Optimized for Windows Live, the LifeCam Cinema also works with Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and Skype for video calls and messaging.  The camera has good low light performance and gives your favorite road warrior a way to chat to their family at the end of a long flight or day on the road.  It’s only a couple of years late but it finally give PC users a webcam to rival Apple’s amazing iSight.

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Google Chrome vs Windows 7

Google Chrome OS Screenshot

I awaited the news about Google Chrome OS today with some interest to see if it was going to provide me with some guidance over whether I should finally give up Windows and move to Chrome OS.  The advantages of Chrome can be found in the video below.  It’s faster and really optimized for the web which is cool as I spend probably 90% of my time on the web now.

Windows 7 Screenshot That’s the kicker, I spend probably 90% of my time there but even with my laptop, a netbook, or even my iPod Touch, I spend some pretty critical time offline (click here to see my list of essential Windows applications) and I just can’t myself giving them up, even on a netbook.  Giving up Photoshop (or even Gimp), the Flickr Uploadr, AbiWord, Open Office, or even iTunes isn’t high on my list of priorities.  Yes I keep a lot of my photos and e-mail in the cloud and we are highly reliant on Google Apps at work, I just can’t imagine giving up desktop apps, even on my iPod Touch for the sake of more speed in bootup.  In fact, I wonder if Google OS’s main competition won’t be my desktop or notebook computer but rather the iPhone/iPod Touch from Apple.  Around the house we go days without logging into my computer at home because of the easy and convenience of my iPod Touch.  I can blog, Twitter, and check e-mail from while while reading the New York Times and the Globe and Mail (btw, the Globe and Mail app is WAY BETTER than the New York Times app).  It’s just so much more convenient and so much faster than firing up the old Dell.  Yet at the same time, when I need to get some work done offline, I need that too (like when I am at the lake, on a plane, or in a place that doesn’t have wifi – which even in downtown Saskatoon, there are places that aren’t wifi enabled, despite the best efforts of Saskatchewan Connected!). I will pay for Windows or find a Linux version to run.  Since we are an iPod family, it will probably be Windows for the foreseeable future.

Essential Windows Software Downloads

I made a list of my essential Windows software downloads last year when I bought a new laptop.  After five years of continual use, it was time to replace my 900mhz AMD Athlon desktop with something newer and I bought a used Dell from OTV.  The list aged pretty well and was a big time saver in getting my computer up and running again.  I thought I would post a link to it in case you need to put together a Windows system or are just looking for some freeware to download.

Eat Your Own Dogfood

I was reading Thomas Hawk’s excellent post on how the CEO and the marketing chief of Yahoo! doesn’t use Flickr when I clicked on a link to this great e-mail from 2003 by Bill Gates over his frustration in trying to download a piece of Microsoft software.

It goes beyond technology.  I keep thinking of this at the shelter.  How would I respond to these rules?  How would I respond after a night in the dorm?  How do I respond to this food?  Of course it is even harder if I can’t read or if I  struggled with a mental health issue or an addiction.  I think I am going to print off the Bill Gates e-mail and put it on my office door.  It’s worth remembering.

Windows Users are WAY cooler than Mac users

You don’t see cool internal videos like these coming from Apple.

Steve Balmer sells the virtues of Windows 1.0

Of course here are the advantages to upgrading to Windows 386

Of course nothing says cool like a rap about upgrading MS-DOS 5.
The stupidity doesn’t stop.  Here is a really odd internal video about Vista SP1
After watching how cool Microsoft is, I am looking for a new O.S.
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